So, I’m pretty sure you all know this about me, but if you didn’t already know: I’m terrified of spiders. TERRIFIED. Have been for a long time. Maybe before the day when I was playing in the yard as a small child and saw a huge daddy long-legs spider climbing up toward my face on my arm, but for SURE after that. I don’t like them. They creep me out. I don’t like pictures of them. I don’t like videos of them. I don’t like seeing them. And I sure as heck don’t like touching them.
I’ve been working on it. I can handle little ones. And by “little” I mean smaller than the eraser on a pencil. And by “handle” I mean kill on my own or step away from without shouting. I can handle them a little bigger than that when they’re outside and heading in a different direction from me. So, working in the yard and upsetting spiders in the grass? Okay as long as they’re running away. Inside the house, they have to be little. Big as a dime and I call Justin down to save me. And I won’t go close to him as long as he’s handling it and he has to wash his hands before I’ll touch him. If I’m very brave, I can kill one in the house with the vacuum.
Luke can probably remember the day we were sitting down to dinner and I freaked out because a tiny little spider suddenly showed up on the table beside me. I shouted and jumped away and the thing was seriously smaller than half a pencil eraser. I was playing a game online with some friends and one of them thought it would be hilarious to suddenly throw a picture of a tarantula up on the game. I screamed and started shaking and Justin had to come out of his office (I was sitting in the living room on another computer) and calm me down before we could go back to playing. To this day, I’m can’t remember how I managed to sit in the same room with the real live tarantula that Mr. Dennis had in his biology class. And every couple months, I bolt awake from sound sleep because I think there’s a spider in bed with me, on my pillow or in the sheets or climbing up the walls.
So Justin and I have started running again. (Can you guess where this is going now?) We’ve been running on the bike path along the main road near our house, but the other day Justin found a trail that we could go running on. We checked it out last week and it was fantastic! We’ve already established on other runs that he goes first and knocks down any spiderwebs on the trail. It’s either that or I run the whole way with an arm up in front of my face like I’m waiting for the noose to drop in Phantom of the Opera. (“Raise up your hand to the level of your eyes!”) So we ran the trail last week, found it to be delightful and not too overgrown, and planned to return in a couple days.
Today we returned to the trail. And about 100 feet in, Justin ran into a spiderweb that stopped him in his tracks because it was enormous and gross and all over his face. So he stopped to pick it out (and I’m already getting creeped out just telling this story) and I stood about 3 feet away helping him see if there was a spider on the web and if he got it all out. (Me, helping! By standing out of arms reach away from the spiderweb!) So he did and he stuck it to a nearby bush and I saw something out of the corner of my eye. At which point I SCREAMED and turned and ran. Apparently Justin had to yell “STOP” like 8 times before I heard him and turned around. I got maybe 10 feet away. He asked, “WHAT?!”
I shouted back, “I FOUND THE SPIDER!”
“Where?!” At this point, he’s thinking it’s on him. On his neck and if he moves he’s going to die, so he’s standing completely stock still.
“THERE!” And I pointed at the spider. It was hanging in the air about a foot away from where my face had been. He didn’t see it. But I wasn’t pointing at him, so he looked around.
“There!” And I managed to somehow explain that it was eye-level at his 2:00 (I think I said 11:00, since I was opposite from him) and THEN he saw it.
“OH.” And he pointed back at the bike path. “GO. RUN.”
And I BOLTED. By the time I hit the sidewalk, I was worked up in to a good solid sprint and speeding up. I had the fear in me and I was hauling it as fast as I could possibly haul it. And then the timer on Justin’s phone beeped — the timer that’s telling us on the Couch to 5K program when we should walk and when we should run. And since we’d been running, the beep meant it was time to walk. My ears heard the beep and my feet turned the running into a walk. Sprint to walk in 3 seconds or less. And then my brain caught up and I started to hyperventilate.
The spider was huge. Irrationally, I want to say that it was as big as my face, which just really creeps me out and I can’t even follow that thought to the finish. It probably wasn’t that big. It was maybe 4 inches long, including the legs, but it was BIG. And close to my face. And BIG. And I think it was yellow and black, but I couldn’t even really tell you that and there’s not any chance in heaven I’m going to look it up to try to figure out what it was. Not. Happening.
Justin caught up with me when I stopped and asked if I was okay, and helped me calm down and stop hyperventilating. That took a little bit. He gave me a thorough looking over to make sure I didn’t have a spider on me, and I checked him to make sure he was clear, too. And then we walked away from the trail and back up the paved bike path that we’d been running on. And we walked until I was sure not to hyperventilate again and then we picked up the running again so we could finish the training for the day. And now and then I’d shudder and twitch and Justin would reassure me that there wasn’t a spider nearby and we were okay on the bike path. But I could still close my eyes and see it.
And, really, I can STILL close my eyes and see it, but I’ve found my solution for when I go to bed:
(1) I’m leaving the dang light on and I don’t care if it makes me look like I’m 6 years old, I am not going to sleep in the dark. Justin comes to bed later than I do because he doesn’t get up at 5:15 in the morning and he can turn it off when he comes in.
(2) I’m imaging myself on the beach. There aren’t spiders like that on the beach. There are crabs and jellyfish and lots of other weird things in the water, but spiders can’t breathe underwater (Lord, save me from that thought) and I can sit on the sand with my toes in the water and not worry about spiders at all. I can sit under my umbrella in my fantastic beach chair and stare out at the waves and not have to worry about them at all. I know that there are big spiders in the woods just off the beach, but ON the beach? NO SPIDERS. So that’s where I’ll be picturing myself when I close my eyes.
Anyway. Justin says he’s never seen me quite so freaked out. And I’m not sure I have all the details right. I didn’t know he shouted at me to stop until we were talking it over again while getting dinner ready. I honestly have no recollection of him shouting — though it does make sense because there’s no other reason why I would have stopped instead of just running my butt all the way back out of the woods. And, if it wasn’t already obvious, we won’t be going back into the woods for a while again.